I'm here to help you understand your legal situation, your rights, and your options. I can help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case, working with you every step of the way in a trusting, confidential environment. Please read my frequently asked questions to get a better idea of your rights. And if you have any questions about your unique legal situation, whether you are facing overwhelming financial difficulties, serious criminal charges, or a devastating personal injury, contact me at The Law Office of Chris D. Hefty.
If you're ever in a position where you might be charged with a crime, you should cooperate with the police so that they don't make notations that you're difficult to work with. But cooperation does not mean answering questions, admitting to wrongdoing, or giving evidence to the police.
In this country, we have highly trained law enforcement personnel, and they know what they need to do to investigate your case. They know what they need to do to get evidence to prosecute your case.
If you're pulled over for suspicion of DUI by the police, give them your license, registration, and insurance information, but don't answer any questions. If an officer says, "I smell the odor of alcohol. Have you been drinking?" do not offer an answer to that question. Simply say, "Officer, I'm here to cooperate, what can I do for you?"
Do not do roadside sobriety tests (where the officer asks you to stand on one leg or recite the alphabet and looks in your eyes). Under Colorado law, you are not required to do roadside sobriety tests. If the officer arrests you, you are then required to do a breath test or a blood test to determine whether the amount of alcohol in your blood is at a level that causes you to be impaired or under the influence. In Colorado that could be as low as .05. You must submit a blood or breath test only after you have been arrested.
If the officer offers you a roadside breath test, you can refuse that. However, do not refuse a breath or blood test after you're arrested: under Colorado law, denying a test result in an automatic suspension of your license for one year.
If you've been arrested for driving under the influence or driving while impaired in Fort Collins, Loveland, or anywhere in Colorado, you will have driver's license consequences. You may need to request a Department of Motor Vehicle hearing. You have only seven days to make that request. The DMV process is confusing, it is recommended that you contact an experienced attorney to help you with this process.
As with any crime, you do not have to answer questions from the police or the investigator. If you're arrested, you should politely tell the officer, "I do not wish to answer any questions until I have had time to consult with an attorney."
Once you're arrested and charged with a crime, whether it's a DUI, misdemeanor, or felony, you have the right after you're booked to contact someone, whether it's an attorney or a family member. You have the right to have bail posted so you can get out of jail, and you have the right to remain silent.
Most people get themselves in trouble when they feel like they have to talk. Sometimes, you can feel that you're not talking about your crime, but anything you say can be used against you in court. It's best to only answer questions related to your identity, your place of employment, your home, or your family and attorney. Do not answer any questions that relate to the incident that is being investigated.
When you're arrested, you're not always charged with a crime at that time. Typically, in Colorado, you are arrested under suspicion of a crime, whether that is driving under the influence, domestic violence, theft, or possession of drugs. Under the Colorado process, the district attorney reviews the case to determine what the appropriate charges should be.
At the time you're arrested, it's possible that investigators could contact you to discuss the incident that they're investigating. You should insist that you do not want to answer questions about the case until you've had time to consult with an attorney.
Usually, a bond will be set at the time of your arrest, depending on the severity of the crime. If it's a non-bondable offense, then you will see a judge. You have the right to see a judge within 24 hours of being arrested, not counting weekends. At that time, you have the right to have an advisement of which crime you're actually being charged with. And you have the right to have a bond set.
Once you've made bond, you have the right to be released the same day that you make bond. You have the right to have a court date set sufficiently far out in the future to give yourself the opportunity to obtain a lawyer.
You have the right to a reasonable amount of phone calls to arrange for bond, to contact family members, or to contact attorneys to help you get out of jail. You also have the right to request that your bond is lowered if you determine you cannot make that bond.
The judge will set a date after your release to have you meet with the district attorney and the judge to determine what path your case is going to take. You have the right to plead not guilty at any time, set the case for trial to a jury, and work with the district attorney or have your attorney talk to the district attorney to try to work out your case (which is the better way to do it). One of the benefits of hiring an attorney is that he can attend those court dates for you. This means you are missing less time from work.
A lot of people get in trouble by talking about their crime to other people in the jail. If you talk to a jail guard, or you talk to another inmate, those statements can be used against you when you go to trial. What's best is not to talk about your crime at all with anyone until you've spoken to an attorney.
In Colorado, you have the right to have an attorney appointed for you if you can't afford one. Therefore, if you can't afford an attorney, you should fill out an application to the court for a court-appointed attorney. If the court thinks you qualify financially, it will appoint you an attorney. Again, you should not talk to anyone until you've talked to that court-appointed attorney.
You can expect a criminal defense attorney to thoroughly evaluate your case and determine whether you have legal defenses or whether your rights have been violated.
The criminal justice process is complex because there is a wide range of issues. You may have a shoplifting case, a domestic violence case, or a DUI case, but there are a lot of criminal process issues that could affect whether or not your case is handled with a proper disposition so that you are treated fairly.
When you hire my firm, you get 28 years of analyzing cases, both from the defense point of view and the prosecution point of view. Therefore, I know what the prosecutors are looking for when they're analyzing your case and I know from experience what I need to do to defend you, to make sure your constitutional rights aren't violated, and to make sure that every available defense is pursued. And one of the things that you can expect is that in some cases, I will reinvestigate the process, reinvestigate the incident, interview witnesses, and make sure that all the bases have been covered.
Due to the stress that comes with a criminal charge, many people want their case to be finished and finished right away, and they want to do things, take offers, or resolve their case in a way that isn't in their best interest. When we're ready to resolve your case, whether by plea bargain or by trial, I make sure that we've covered every base so that the disposition-whatever it is-is in the best interest of the client.
I also don't push cases through court. As your criminal defense attorney, I know how to determine whether or not you have defenses, how to pursue those defenses, how to approach the district attorney, and how to time your case to get you the best possible outcome.
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